Seven Things Great Job Interviewers Do Every Time

Barry Lenson

Are you about to interview candidates who are applying for jobs at your company? It’s a lot of work, isn’t it? And if you work for a large company that has a variety of jobs to fill, your job as an interviewer just got harder.

Can’t you just “wing it” and let the applicants do all the work? It’s tempting, but it’s a bad idea. With just a little planning and preparation, you can dramatically increase the chances that you will hire an applicant who has exactly what it takes to be a top performer on the job you are trying to fill.

Here are some things that top job interviewers do not just occasionally, but in every job interview they lead.

  • Learn about the job you are filling and ask focused questions. With just a little research, you can be prepared to ask something specific (“Have you ever worked on a hotel front desk before?”) instead of general (“Do you like people?”) The more you know about the jobs to be filled, the greater the odds you will identify and hire the right candidates.
  • Spend between 30 and 60 seconds putting interviewees at ease. A question like, “How was your trip here this morning?” or, “Did you see the game last night?” takes only a moment, and can encourage the applicant to relax, open up, and provide more of the information you need to hear as you make a hiring decision.
  • Nix interruptions. Don’t take any phone calls, allow colleagues to drop in, or permit other distractions. When you focus solely on the applicant, you send the message that the interview is important. Plus, you will digest a lot more of what the candidate has to say.
  • Practice good listening skills. As the candidate speaks, quiet your mind and really focus on what he or she has to say. Then ask follow-up questions about what you have heard to deepen your understanding. (“You said that your last company went out of business? What was that all about?”)
  • Invite the candidate to ask questions. A simple question from you like, “Is there anything else you would like to know about the position?” can open up important new areas for discussion and let you learn more about your candidate.
  • Explain what the next steps are. You can say, for example, “We will be scheduling call-back interviews on Friday and we will email you on Friday if you are in that group.”
  • If you think the applicant is a strong candidate for the job, say so and, if possible, try to seal the deal. If you don’t say something like, “You are just the kind of person we are looking for to fill this job,” how will the applicant know that is the case? Or if you are certain you will invite the candidate back for a second interview, why not schedule it immediately? Being decisive can go a long way toward hiring the right people before another company does.

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